For K-12

K12 Outreach


The MMLI will revolutionize the way chemistry is taught and capture the imagination of a new generation of molecule makers. We will catalyze this revolution by building on our already established momentum of engagement with high school science teachers and students through several mechanisms.

MMLI will deliver “MMLI in a Box” to classrooms across the U.S., including communities with students traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields. These colorful boxes packed with engaging educational materials will empower high school science teachers to expose their students to the wonder of molecule making. The MMLI will also send a colorful macroscopic 3D printed space-filling model of their designed molecule they can hold in their hands, and a cool T-shirt proudly announcing, “I am a Molecule Maker”!

In the summer months, high school teachers and students from across the U.S. will also be invited to spend a week at a Molecule Maker Camp at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. During this immersive experience, participants will spend each day learning about MMLI. The week will also be packed with a wide range of fun and exciting molecule making-related educational activities, including building “MEGA-molecules” with super-sized Lego kits, 3D printing space-filling models of the polythiophenes they have designed, molecular role-playing skits, and attending “The Smallest World” talks by experts that present to non-specialists in a highly accessible format the essence of human-centered molecular design, synthesis, and testing. We will also have many fun group activities designed to foster a molecular innovation ecosystem and encourage the participants to return to their local communities as “Ambassadors to the Molecular World” (armed with the website for how their classrooms can access MMLI in a Box kits!).

We encourage K-12 students and educators to explore the Molecule Maker Digital Learning Platform, which will launch in fall 2021.In this free, interactive platform, you can explore a digital library of molecules and use the drag-and-drop feature to build your own molecules! Test your new molecule to see if it can be made or if it breaks one of the molecule making “rules” identified by the MMLI researchers. You can explore the examples of molecule maker projects for inspiration and hear the stories of fellow molecule makers.

K-12 students and educators of the local Champaign-Urbana community will be invited to participated in the annual Molecule Make-a-Thon, beginning in late 2021. Compete for one of five Molecule Maker coins, each worth financial support to make molecules at the Molecule Maker Lab at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. You will submit a short video describing 1) a problem of interest, 2) a molecule that would solve the problem, and 3) how your idea will impact society. Each video will be reviewed by our panel of judges, and ten finalists will be selected to pitch their ideas to a diverse “Dolphin Tank” of judges at a fun, high energy event with the audience voting for their favorites on their phones. The five winners will receive support and mentoring from MMLI and other leading experts at UIUC. We look forward to putting the power of MMLI into your hands, a future molecular innovator!